The history of the peoples recorded in ancient writings and in the ruins and artefacts uncovered by the hand of man are combined with the history of the valleys, plateaus and plains that form a territory which, due to its uniqueness and natural wealth, is now classified the Vale do Guadiana Nature Park. Here, the geography is marked by valleys protecting the rugged bed of the great river of the south and its tributaries. These valleys flow sublimely into the Alentejo landscape of holm oak groves and cereal fields. In this vast area of an arid and deep Alentejo, still shy of human presence, a rich variety of wildlife take refuge, which may still be witnessed by those passing.
Guadiana Valley Nature Park (69.773 ha) is on the middle valley of the Guadiana river (the Protected Area margins the river from the area of Pulo do Lobo to the mouth of Vascão creek) sitting on a wavy plain that hides the fitted valleys of the river itself and its effluents which often are reduced to trickles during the summer.
The highest point in the Natural Park (370 meters) is on the quartzite elevations of São Barão and Alcaria hills.
The vegetation is dominated by corktree woods, with a modest presence of oak woods, extensive cistus areas and rainfed plantations. The river network is home to important ichthyological fauna – more than twenty species of freshwater fish such as Saramugo Anaecypris hispanica and the Guadiana Nase. In what regards the bird fauna we must highlight the birds of prey and the various passerine species.
Mértola village, at the top of a rocky spur which signals the conclusion of navigability of the Guadiana river, dominates the surrounding area keeping countless influences – Arabs, Romans, medieval… – from past times.
Know more about the Vale do Guadiana Nature Park here